“Because of your smile you make life more beautiful”
In Loving Memory
of our beautiful son
This website has been created as a tribute to a wonderful son, brother, grandson, uncle, nephew, cousin and friend who is loved and will be remembered by all. Our grandchildren and their grandchildren will know of him.
This page is an introduction to Joel and the special son and brother we knew and loved. To learn more about his struggles and death, read the section labeledMedical Informationlisted underHis Legacy(tab above).
We thank you for visiting Joel's site and it warms our hearts to know he is not forgotten. The candles and tributes left, lift our spirits and help ease the incredible feeling of pain and loss. We hope you will continue to visit and see any updates that we do from time to time as we continue to share our memories of Joel.
Despite the cold winds we were blessed with sunshine and the company of family, friends and of course Joel's friends. Tom, Matthew, Daniel, John and Lacey, you were very special to Joel and we think of you all often. We shared our thoughts, sent orange balloons to the heavens and released orange butterflies at the memorial garden. Unfortunately the strong winds made the butterflies quite frisky but then again that was Joel, so very fitting :)
Daniel your harp playing was very special so we thank you for adding to our celebration of Joel's life. Thank you to everyone who attended, and we acknowledge those who sent their apologies and who have sent their wishes and caring thoughts to us at this time.
8 Years in Heaven
Joel it's hard to believe another year has gone without you in our lives. We celebrate your life and remember the fun times, but oh how it still hurts. We love and miss you our beautiful boy.
“I’m glad we had the times together just to laugh and sing a song, seems like we just got started and then before you know it, the times we had together were gone.” - Dr Suess
7 Years in Heaven
Seven years ago today we lost our dear little red-headed boy Joel. Well I say ‘little’, he was our youngest son who had grown into a fine young man with all his life before him. After a couple of minor car accidents resulting in back surgery, and as a 'bullet proof ' not quite 19 year old, Joel accidentally mixed prescription pain killers resulting in his death. To say we were devastated is an understatement. After seven years I am slowly finding my grief changing and I am able to see past the circumstances of his death. Grief is a passage, not a place to stay, the sense of loss is giving way to enable me to value the life of Joel and all that he was to me, his family, his friends, and all who knew him and came into contact with him. Today we celebrate the beautiful person he was and still is and is a day to reflect on all that Joel brought to our lives. His love shines bright in our hearts, our home and in our lives. We love you Joel xx
Joel, 6 years in Heaven
Thank you Debra for this beautiful graphic
As long as we live, they too will live; For they are now a part of us: As we remember them! At the rising sun and at its going down we remember them. At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter we remember them. At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring we remember them. At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer we remember them. At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of the autumn we remember them. At the beginning of the year and when it ends we remember them. As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us. As we remember them. When we are weary and in need of strength we remember them. When we are lost and sick at heart we remember them. When we have decisions that are difficult to make we remember them. When we have joy we crave to share we remember them. When we have achievements that are based on theirs we remember them. For as long as we live, they too will live, For they are now a part of us, as we remember them. (Gates of Prayer - Reform Judaism Prayer Book)
Happy Birthday in Heaven Joel
Joel you would have been 24 years old today. My heart aches with the pain of losing you and wondering who you would be today. There is a hole in our hearts and a piece is missing in our family without you here.
"When someone we love dies, it seems as if time stands still. And silence... a quiet sadness... often can be felt, not just heard, a longing for one more day... one more word... one more touch... And we may not understand why God chose to have him leave this earth so soon, or why he had to leave before we were ready to say goodbye, but little by little, we will begin to remember not just that he died, but that he lived. And that his life gave us memories too beautiful to forget. We will see him again someday, in a heavenly place where there is no parting. A place where there are no words that mean goodbye."
19 August 2012 we come to the 5th anniversary of Joel leaving us. Even though the pain is still there, we remember the fun, laughter, and good times that we were blessed with while Joel was in our lives and count our blessings for all the good things we do have in our lives. We know we will see him again one day in heaven where there are no tears, no pain or suffering, only peace love and joy....
10/10/2011 Happy Birthday Joel
- we love and miss you every day until we meet again.
JOEL - Your 4th anniversary and the pain surfaces again. We miss you so much and still wonder why you had to go. Today we remember all the good times, your beautiful smile, your enthusasim, your energy, your love for life. 'There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we can see are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever.' 2 Corinthians 4 v18.
Happy 22nd Birthday in Heaven Joel
Missing you so much and thinking of the fine young man you would be today. You would have been so excited that your birthday this year is 10-10-10 - special just like you.
Remembering you Joel on your third anniversary in heaven.
Joel, 3 years without you and it feels like an eternity. Our lives are richer for having you with us, but we all miss you so much, especially with your anniversary almost here.
To the living, I am gone, To the sorrowful, I will never return, To the angry, I was cheated, But to the happy, I am at peace, And to the faithful, I have never left. I cannot speak, but I can listen. I cannot be seen, but I can be heard. So as you stand upon a shore gazing at a beautiful sea ... As you look upon a flower and admire its’ simplicity ... Remember me. Remember me in your heart. Your thoughts, and your memories, Of the times we loved, The times we cried, The times we fought, The times we laughed. For if you always think of me, I will never have gone.
For God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16
New slide show to the right side of this screen - Gone Too Soon - memories of Joel set to the Michael Jackson song.
We do not have to rely upon memories to recapture the spirit of those we have loved and lost -
They live within our souls in some perfect sanctuary which even death cannot destroy.
All we have left is your photograph and we realise you're not coming back anymore...
"I loved the boy with the utmost love of which my soul is capable of and he is taken from me - yet in the agony of my spirit in surrendering such a treasure, I feel a thousand times richer than if I had never possessed it." - William Wordsworth
Death is nothing at all, I have only slipped away into the next room. Whatever we were to each other, that we are still. Call me by my old familiar name. Speak to me in the easy way which you always used.
Laugh as we always laughed at the little jokes we enjoyed together. Play, smile, think of me. Pray for me. Let my name be the household word it always was. Let it be spoken without effort. Life means all that it ever meant. It is the same as it ever was; there is absolutely unbroken continuity.
Why should I be out of your mind because I am out of your sight? I am but waiting for you, for an interval, somewhere very near just around the corner... All is well. Nothing is past, nothing is lost.
One brief moment and all will be as it was before, only better, infinitely happier and forever we will be one together.
Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918)
I thank God every time I remember you. Philippians 1:3
Joel has left us too soon, at the age of 18, and the pain, numbness and shock we felt as this website began, was deep. While the pain will never go away, we now have to try to find a new 'normal' as we start on this long journey without Joel.
As Joel's family and friends know, he had a car accident in August 2006 (he talks about this on his My Space site), and as a result of this accident, had a back operation in March 2007. He suffered quite a deal of pain, but always tried to smile and put on a brave face as he worked through his recovery. He was well and happy the last night he was with us. He slipped away peacefully in his sleep and now spends eternity in Heaven. Our only comfort is that we will be with him again one day.
"As we learn to carry these feelings, we realise there is room in our hearts for more than the pain and anguish of separation." I hope one day you have peace alongside of the pain. - Unknown
"The love that is in a parent's heart stays deep, strong and true. No matter where you go, that love is there with you". Quote by Edgar Cayce.
The mention of Joel's name may bring tears to my eyes. But it never fails to bring music to my ears. If you really are my friend, let me hear the music of his name! It soothes my broken heart and sings to my soul. Author unknown
There are some slideshows set to songs on the right hand side of this page or access from the audio/video section. Joel loved taking photos of himself with his friends and had hundreds of photos he had taken at school and work. If you have photos to share you can do this yourself in the Photo Album section. We would love to have any photos on this site as we can.
Joel's Year 12 film - see under 'His Legacy' 'Come to Daddy' - the film Joel made in Year 12, of which he was so proud of, and he gained top marks for. It may seem a strange little movie, but that was Joel - always thinking outside the square. I (his mum) helped him with the filming of the movie, which was made up of thousands of still photos, and we spent many nights 'shooting'. I told him I should be on the credits, but I don't think I made it!
Memories Joel loved life. He loved his family and friends, and his passion was music. He had such a range of tastes, from the techno stuff that mostly I didn't understand to some others that I really enjoyed. If his Dad or I wanted any sort of music he made it his goal to find it for us. Only a month before he left us he had found a heap of Johnny Cash songs and burnt a CD for his Dad. I also remember one day I was driving him to a doctor's appointment in the city. I had a Beatles CD in the car which he had recently burnt for me. He said I could listen to my CD on the way in, and his on the way out. We drove into the city with the CD cranked up loud, and sang away to the Beatles all the way in. He didn't forget when it was time to go home that his CD was next!
Joel was noisy, loud and always in a rush - he was incorrigible, and yes I admit, sometimes I got mad with him, as all parents of teenagers do at times. But he was also funny and loveable and so full of life. His energy and talking at times used to wear me out, but of course I would give anything to have that all back now.
I loved him so much. I would would do anything for him that was in my power, as I would for all my boys. Joel and I had a special relationship, and we just connected. We used to go together to 'different' films, ones that I wouldn't go to with anyone else, and he was more than happy to come along with me. We shared the same humour and could see things that sometimes others didn't, in all aspects of life.
We also shared a love of food. His first words coming home would be "What's for dinner?" The last Thursday he was with us, he wanted to get take-away as it was just the two of us. I couldn't think of anything, so he said, "Leave it to me, and I'll find something different." I'd only been home about 10 minutes after shopping, and he turned up with take away noodles, from the new shop Noodle in a Box. They were delicious and he was so pleased with himself that he had come up with something different. We decided we'd definitely have them again.
He was also our resident IT person. He used to get frustrated with his Dad and I because as typical parents, we sometimes didn't know what we were doing, but he always helped. Now that he isn't here, we miss his help so much and realise just how much we took for granted.
Music was my refuge. I could crawl into the space between the notes and curl my back to loneliness. ~ Maya Angelou ~
Some of Joel's favourite things
Music (preferably loud); film; food! - chocolate cake, O'Portos, coke, doughnuts, pizza, pancakes, his Mum's roast dinners, steak; cars; sound systems; Ginger (Ben's dog, which Joel treated like his own); comedy shows on TV (see his own wording below).
As this page is called About Him, I have taken Joel’s wording which he had put on his My Space website (or click on the link below to go directly to the site). That way you can gain more of an insight into his personality. For those of you who don't know, Joel had referred to himself as Jimmy for a number of years, after a DJ who was around at the time Joel was getting into records and doing a bit of DJ' ing himself. Somehow the name continued. Lately, some called him Joely (mostly the girls), which was much cuter! Below is the link to Joel's My Space page -
Jimmy "Music Is Life - Time and motion are just illusions created by our inability to comprehend everything at once. "
Male 18 years old Brisvegas, Queensland Australia Status – Single Here for – Networking, friends
Jimmy’s Interests General
Film Film Film, Any Clip Done by Chris Cunningham, or using a track by Venetian Snares. Also there is a really cool old green day clip out there somewhere which kicks ass (Walking Contradiction?) I think thats it... the one where every thing goes wrong around him, except he doesnt even realize....
This is my brother doing a 360 flip on my board, after over a year of not even touching a skateboard at all. Crazy. (There is a video clip on Joel’s MySpace site – he really admired how Ben could ride a skateboard).
Electronic, most styles, including IDM, Drum and Bass, Rephlex. JURASSIC 5.. Every song, off every album. I can almost recite every lyric of every song even. Also I like 90's punk/scar, less than jake - blink 182 - at the drive in - sunny day real estate. randoms like mars volta, circle takes the square, fall of troy, wolfmother, bright eyes.......
This is one of my favourite Rephlex artists Bogdan Raczynski with one of his albums, the best one of course, Samurai Math Beats!
And Ovuca - Onclements (I own this on vinyl as well terrific album)
And artist Cylob - Rewind Single (I own this on vinyl as well), one of the best rephlex releases to date by far. (Editor note - Joel was so keen on Cyclob, that he got in touch with them via email. He corresponded with them reguarly and when he ordered this vinyl, they sent him another limited release vinyl, signed by them. I remember when he was waiting for it to arrive early in the year and he would watch for the delivery van every day. He was so excited when it arrived. They signed it "Jimmy, Thanks for keeping it fresh".
I LOVE DIRTY LAUNDRY DIRTY FILTHY OBSCENE IMMORAL Ahhhh Yeah!!!!
Films Fight Club, SCARFACE (no other movie greater.) and of course Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (Johnny Depps best role ever.)
Simpsons (of course) all the regulars like jackass, the dudesons, viva la bam, also all the comedys scrubs, seinfeld, south park, kenny vs spenny. Law and Order, forever - all of svu, criminal intent.
Books Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas...
Heroes Richard James (By the artist of Aphex Twin who has been crowned godfather of electonica) Tom Jenkinson (Also artist Squarepusher all time best drum and bass music ever, so many perfect tracks and genius riffs) Chris Cunningham (Director of both Aphex Twin and Squarepusher film clips, very much my inspiration towards films and best director ever) Also Other Artists like Ovuca and Bogdan Raczynski, but you should already know that by now if you have read everything.
Jimmy’s Blurbs About me I like music and films a lot. I collect records.. Vinyl.. what ever you want to call them.... I started when I was about 15 with the help of my brothers partying every weekend out at raves, (obviously inspired me). So my collection now has grown a fair bit. but I am still young. Without music I could not survive. A good festival every now and then keeps me happy. I recently went to both Good Vibrations 07 and Summafieldayze 07. Saw one of my favourite groups of all time JURASSIC 5. I am pretty casual about mostly everything. I just like to chill out to music most of the time.
This is what my car should look like, a 91' Lancer GSR
This is what my car does look like, after an accident of course... in August 06...
There is more damage to the car than you can actually see, the whole windscreen shattered, front dash completely knocked out, steering wheel out of line, the whole deal, the front right door didnt even close properly, not to mention the engine had its head cut off (for the guys, you can basically see the pistons, that’s how bad it was) A damn UTE tray sliced and diced it. - Not my fault though but caused 1 ruptured disc and 1 herniated disc in my back. OUCH! I feel more pain for the car though.
And I’m a Stud with the Ladies
OOOOOOOOOOHHHHH And this is a video... taken at school a long time ago, Me with a crate on my head and Tyson FLY-Kicking it off. (film clip on MySpace)
I'd love to show off my video of an Aphex Twin song called Come to Daddy, but I have no version to add or to put on here.. sorry... maybe in the future.. in the bottom left under "hereos" there are a couple of videos by Chris Cunningham, my inspiration for doing my film the way I did, and using songs by the same artist, one of my other hereos... so for now they should satisfy your needs, some people have already seen it (obviously people in film in yr 12 with me, but I Would love to one day be able to put it on here for people to see, and hopefully admire.
UPDATE I FOUND 54 SECONDS OF MY FILM, HERE IT IS, ITS CALLED COME TO DADDY, NAMED AFTER THE SONG, COME TO DADDY (MUMMY MIX) AGAIN BY APHEX TWIN, YOU MUST USE SOUND, IT IS CRUCIAL AS THE FILM IS SYNCED WITH THE SONG. IF I FIND THE WHOLE FILM I WILL PUT IT UP, BUT THIS IS THE FIRST BIT, I HOPE YOU ALL LIKE IT, I HOPE TO DO MORE WORK IN THE SAME STYLE AS THIS IN THE FUTURE. PEACE AND ENJOI! Film is Called Come to Daddy - Direct by Me (Joel McGregor) - Song is Aphex Twin - Come to Daddy (Mummy Mix)
Who I'd like to meet:
The guys from Mars Volta, holy shit they are good. Squarepusher and Chris Cunningham for being incredibly good at what they do. Also Salvador Dali he has some amazing works - Such as The persistence of time.
Thinking of You - Joel's 6th Anniversary / Heather
Thinking of You <3 / Edwina~Troy's Mum
ღღღღ The world may never notice If a Snowdrop doesn't bloom, Or even pause to wonder If the petals fall too soon. But every life that ever forms, Or ever comes to be, Touches the world in some small way For all eternitity. ღღღღ
Merry Christmas! / Fam. Of Scott &. Samantha Myers
Let's give a little Jesus, to everyone, large and small, for Jesus, the Messiah, is the greatest gift of all.
Thank You! / Fam. Of Scott Myers
Happy Halloween Joel! / Fam. Of Scott &. Samantha Myers
With love & thoughts Julie - 5 years / Heather Smith, Richard's Mum (Connected by Angels )Read >>
May Memorial Day Memories of Joel Brighten the Day / Faye Mama Of Angel Alyson Halliburton Read >>
For Joel's Mum, Julie Mother's Day 2012 / Faye/Alyson Halliburton Read >>
I spent a lifetime trying to get him off the ground.I ran with him until we were breathless. He crashed and again I tried to add a longer tail. Finally this past year we thought he was airborne, not like dad or jolie flying - but a different kind. but... he needed more string and I kept letting it out...with each twist of the ball of twine there was a sadness that went with the joy -thinking the tough love would make him responsible....but sad because the kite became more distant and somehow we still did not know our beautiful boy would snap the lifeline that bound him together to us and would soar as only he was meant to soar - free and alone, now with the angels.
A Kite Author Unknown
Joel was a happy child. When we look back at photos he always had the biggest smile in every one. As he grew up he always thought everyone who spoke to him was his friend, and was never short of friends at school. He went through a ‘chubby’ stage in primary school because of his love of snack foods, and yes, now I see that as parents we should have had more control, but he was our baby, and we thought it was just a stage and he would grow out of it. He didn’t seem to have any self image problems and because of his loving nature, had many friends who accepted him for what he was. Maybe this was the start of him trying to be something different to what he really was, always being the witty, charming person with the smart answer.
During High School he began to change, and became very confident, almost too confident, in himself. We see now that he was just a totally different personality to the rest of our family, and unfortunately we expected him to conform to our image of what ‘normal’ was. I also believe that part of his persona on the surface was an act, covering up a much more sensitive, gentle spirit than what he portrayed. Joel was passionate about things, and very creative. I also see now that in the last 12 months of his life, he was being pushed down by people around him, even family not understanding him, which must have been very frustrating and disheartening.
When he had his car accident in August 2007, he was given Oxycontin, extremely strong painkillers. He was on Work Cover, so had to do the rounds of physiotherapists, doctors, specialists etc. before they finally reached the conclusion that he would need a back operation.
Joel was led to believe by the specialist that once he’d had the operation, he would be pain free, and after 6 months of extreme pain, and taking strong painkillers, Joel was so looking forward to being pain-free. Once he had the operation he was making an excellent recovery, but then told us and the specialist he’d lifted something and was in bad pain again. The specialist, recognising that Joel was addicted to the strong painkillers, refused to give them to him and also banned the local doctor from doing so. At the time we thought it was the right thing to do, but in hindsight, realise that what Joel really needed was understanding and not to be treated by the medical profession as a down and out addict. Even if he was, help should have been offered, and parents involved. We put our faith so totally in the medical system and believed they knew what was best.
This is when the local doctor started giving Joel Valium and other anti-anxiety medication. We as parents, were absolutely naïve about the whole situation. Joel always seemed so confident, and was in regular touch with the local GP and even told us what medication he had been given, and the dangers of mixing them with alcohol etc. We put our trust fully in the doctor, and other professionals who were supposedly looking after him. In hindsight we now know that we should have played a much bigger role ourselves.
Joel completed an intense rehabilitation program which was going extremely well. He was keen to get back to work, as he didn’t like hanging around and become bored. Things hadn’t been going well at work, with the manager putting more pressure on everyone, and the two girls who Joel had worked with in the photo lab since he started, finally left. The manager put a younger girl on as manager over Joel, and she gave Joel a hard time, which distressed him enormously. He told us about it and we said he shouldn’t let it get to him so much and if it was that bad, find another job and leave.
A new staff member at the time befriended Joel, and told him about time management and setting goals etc. While parents can tell their children about this sort of thing, sometimes they listen more to others. Joel’s brother Ben, had heard through me, that Joel was having a hard time, and emailed him from London where he was working. Ben told Joel to follow his passion, which was film. Joel was the most excited when he received that, than he’d been for a long time. He went out and bought a video camera and started filming and making his portfolio for university admission.
Unfortunately he let things at work get to him too much and that last week was desperate to quit. Once again we told him not to give in, but find something else first. This he did and on the last Thursday, he was up early, making his ‘to do’ list and going around handing out his CV. He was convinced he was going to get one of those jobs.
After many searches for questions and answers, we now understand more about addiction and how it controls people’s lives. All the confusing changes in his life over the past 12 months seem to have led to self-medication through prescription drug abuse as a way to deal with the situations he was experiencing.
Joel was always a happy and loving child and teenager. When he was going through these other stages, we just put it down to his different personality, and the changes that normal teenagers go through at that time of their lives. I must admit that I tried to talk to him on numerous occasions, but he wouldn't let me and just told me to ‘stress less’ – then often would give me a big hug. I so much wanted to believe him, and was torn between keeping tabs on him, and letting him become more independent. I couldn’t count the nights I stayed up waiting for him to come home and sending text messages to him. Even though I got mad at him, he would always get around me and I would want to believe the stories he told me.
Joel was a free spirit and I loved him so much. We related in so many different areas. With his Dad frequently away on business trips, it was just the two of us, and we formed a close bond, albeit with the continual struggle of how much freedom he should be given.
That last week I had questions going through my mind and was contemplating taking Joel to a specialist for more tests to see if he was suffering from bipolar disorder. Sadly he never lived long enough for us to get to the bottom of just exactly what was going on. The last day he was with us he was at work, and I went to visit him around lunchtime. He asked me to stay and have lunch with him, which I did. When I met him to walk up for lunch, he was very irritated by the noisy kids playing in the inside playground. I remember telling him, ‘Joel, be happy’, thinking that one day he would stress so much he would have a heart attack. I was confused at the change of personality in Joel. One minute he was a loving son, the next minute he was irritated and angry. I now know that it was the medication.
We had O’Portos which had become one of his favourites, and when I tried to clean a bit of mayo off his arm, he chided me and told me to ‘stop being such a mother!’ As we mothers know, that never happens, no matter how old our children are. He got home from work that night and then went to the chemist to buy some Panadeine Forte. Once again we didn’t question anything because he always seemed to be upfront with what he was taking, and apparently was only taking Panadeine Forte occasionally.
That night his Dad and I went out for dinner, asking him to join us, but he said he was happy to stay home. We weren’t going to be late, and he waved us good-bye. He was happy that work had gone well that day, someone had given him a part for his computer, and he was going to work on his uni application.
After getting his phone back from the police in December and going through text messages from that night, I believe that he must have been feeling very alone, and had been texting friends about catching up. He was very much a ‘people’ person, and through the accident, and pain, etc. he had become more isolated from people, which I now see, made him very vulnerable.
When we got home, he was asleep on the couch, snoring his head off. I went and spoke to him, saying he should be going to bed as he had work the next morning. He spoke to me, although he didn't totally wake up, and later on after I'd gone to bed, I heard him go to the bathroom and clean his teeth. I even got up later to see if he was in bed, and he was in the lounge room, which he usually did so he didn’t disturb us with the TV. I didn’t go and speak to him then, as this was nothing out of the ordinary as he would often fall asleep on the couch, and then wake up some time later and go to bed.
He'd obviously gone to bed not knowing how bad he was, or perhaps even taken something else before he went to sleep. He went to bed and never got up, instead he woke in the arms of God. We have been told that the combination of the two drugs he had taken slowed down his respiratory system, which caused him to stop breathing.
We received the coroner's report just before Christmas 2007. The coroner’s conclusion was that Joel died from an accidental mixture of prescription drugs (Panadeine Forte and Xanax). Somehow he made a terrible error of judgment that last night, mixing two drugs which proved to be fatal. He possibly was confused with the amount of drugs in his system, and took more before he went to sleep, not realising how many he’d taking earlier.
Joel's death was contributed to by the disease of addiction. Addiction is a brain disease. The addicted person has no more control over their disease than someone suffering from diabetes or cancer does. Their struggle is just as painful and difficult for them.
Most addicted people start down their destructive path when they are children. Children don’t consider the consequences of their actions and they think they’re invincible. Ultimately, they discover that it is the drugs that are invincible.*
Still there may be a question of intention by some people and it is natural to wonder. At times life can be confusing for anyone, without the added burden of stress and drug addiction (prescription or non prescription). These burdens distorted Joel’s thinking and reasoning skills. Drugs may be abused at times by people to feel "normal" and at other times to escape dealing with life’s struggles. (In reality, this offers no solutions and only worsens the struggles.) It is possible that in a confused and impaired moment, caused by stress and drug abuse, he wanted to escape his problems. If so, another question remains as to whether it was meant to be a temporary escape or was it meant to be permanent? We will never know the answer to these questions but totally believe in our hearts that Joel would never harm himself. He was so full of life and looking forward to the future. He was planning his film course and had set his alarm to get up for work in the morning.
Whatever his intentions may or may not have been, his thinking and actions would have been influenced by drug abuse. It is also my understanding that sometimes in the drug abuse cycle of self-medication and self-treatment, the sufferer can never really know what their bodies can tolerate. When Joel was first on the strongest painkillers, Oxycontin, his body could tolerate very high doses, and the doctors were amazed at how he did it. When he wasn’t allowed to have the Oxycontin, he assumed he could tolerate more of the other drugs as well, and fell into the trap of self medicating, mixing drugs, albeit prescription, and taking them at higher doses.
Why would anyone risk death for the high of these powerful drugs? For some, it is an unwitting mistake. Incredibly, others intentionally make this choice as part of a desperate search for an increasingly better high. The reason for this behaviour is addiction, or one of its fundamental features: the ability to alter peoples' brains such that they can no longer exercise proper judgment or experience normal pleasures. Along with displacing natural "reinforcers" such as food, family, and friends, drugs of abuse also eventually lose their ability to reward, placing the addict on a compulsive quest for more drug and for greater drug potency as their reward circuitry becomes increasingly blunted and desensitized. **
He obviously didn’t realise how they might interact. Who knows all the things that could have played a part? We will never know the answers, and we believe to this day that doctors have lot to answer for. There is a need for a state wide register to stop people having more access to drugs than they should. We believe the measure of one's life is more than the way in which they died.
In the big picture, these problems were just a small part of a dear and precious life. Joel kept his battles to himself and made his path seem easy to others with his beautiful smile and loving nature. So many people loved him. Although, now we see that at times his struggles kept him from receiving all the love offered to him. We are left with so much love for him in our hearts, and so many unanswered questions. What did we miss and when did we miss it? Where did normal adolescence changes stop and the problems start? At no time, not even in the depth of the hard times, did we ever imagine this outcome. What parent ever does?
Young people with these struggles are not bad kids from neglectful families. They are not weak minded. They are wonderful folks struggling with problems and stresses they and their families may not fully understand. Teens may not want to discuss their problems openly because they do not want to be seen as different. More work needs to be done to increase everyone's understanding of these issues.
"There's far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can't see now will last forever" (2 Corinthians 4:18 MSG).
Despite our unanswered questions, we know now he is at peace with his struggles. He fought his battles the best he could. He was the gentle soul who tried to do the right thing by all his friends. As the poem says,
‘How can the gentle boy not know You love him beyond death You’d help him any way you could, Unto your dying breath?’
One of his friends said at the memorial service, that Joel was the first person to say to him ‘Take care’. I remember being with him in many different places and he would always leave people with a ‘Take care’ to everyone. It is our belief Joel is experiencing greater things without struggles, pain and limitations. But, I must admit at times we are very selfish. We wish we could turn time back and have him here with us. Since we cannot do that, we live each day to honour his memory.
Drug abuse doesn't just affect the user; it affects the lives of everyone that loves them. I hope folks that use drugs to temporarily escape problems realize that continued drug use will also take away the good things in their lives, such as; their plans for the future, their joy, hopes and dreams. To learn more about drug abuse you may want to visit http://www.drugfree.org/intervention/ or http://www.drugfree.org/Portal.
"Some people sweet, attractive, strong and healthy happen to die young. They are masters in disguise teaching us about impermanence". -Dalai Lama
Compiled with much gratitude and thanks to Debra Reagan, who's son Clint passed away on 6 August 2005 at the age of 20. Debra allowed me to use quotes and wording from Clint's site. Joel and Clint's personalities and circumstances are so alike it's amazing. I'm sure they're having a great time together in heaven.
New Garage Doors! Only a month before Joel left us, in typical Joel fashion, he was rushing out one night and didn't check that the remote garage door was fully up. Of course he backed into it. We came home at 11.30pm to find him with a hammer saying it just needed a bit of a bash and it would be okay! Upon inspection it was obvious it wasn't okay and we would need a new door.
As it turned out, we were able to claim both doors on insurance, because the other door had been backed into a few years ago by his mum, and we hadn't done anything about it because it was usable. So Joel was very pleased that in fact he had really done us a favour! Typical Joel, when he could turn it into a positive, he did.
The new doors were installed a week after his memorial service.
Joel's parents asked Christian Outreach College if they could contribute a trophy in Joel's name, connected to film in year 12. They kindly agreed.
Beginning this year (2007) on awards night they presented a trophy to the top student in the subject, and will be known as "The Joel McGregor Memorial Award in Film, Television and New Media".
Even though Joel didn't get to fulfil his dream of working in film, we know he would have excelled, because he just had the drive and passion to do so. It took him a couple of years out of school to begin to mature and realise what he wanted, but once he decided, he was going for it.
I hope that this trophy will help encourage new talent in the area of film making - young adults who can go on and shine their light on behalf of Joel.